"Camp counselor?" I asked.
"Yeah. It'll be fun," she said.
I thought about the request my girlfriend at the time made and it seemed like a good one. Her and I being camp counselors together for a couple of weeks seemed like a good idea. My best friend Nic would be there along with her friend Jen. We might enjoy it. I like kids and the outdoors so I signed up. My 16 year old mind had great visions of a time that would be fun for all involved.
And then I met Dennis, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
After a week of counselor training, which involved various teen antics, our batch of children arrived for their time with us. Some kids greeted me with hugs, some with shy waves, and some with sadness that they'd be separated from their parents. Most of them seemed like sweet kids and the week of being a camp counselor promised to be enjoyable.
Then drove up a beat up old station wagon. Out of the car appeared a couple who seemed like they leapt straight from the pages of Easyrider magazine. In tow was a small cute tyke, even for his tender age of 5. It was then I was introduced to Dennis.
"Hi Dennis," I chimed. "Welcome to Camp Singing Wind."
"Hi fatso," he yelled. The parents laughed while I stood in mild shock.
Dennis' folks made their leave and we sat the children in a circle. Nic and I chatted with the kids and listened to their stories about school, their summer so far, and how happy they are to be away from their annoying siblings.
Dennis for some reason decided to take off his shirt. I told him he needed to put his shirt back on. In a sweet voice with puppy dog eyes he asked me to help him.
"Sure thing," I said. I placed the shirt on the kid and was rewarded with a short jab in the eye.
"What possessed you to do that?" I responded. He giggled. "We don't hit people here, ever." He kept laughing.
We escorted the boys down to their cabin. Dennis kept running off so I took him by the hand and kept a firm grip as we made our journey. For reasons I can only explain as demonic possession Dennis grabbed my left testicle and pulled.
I dropped to the ground like a rock in serious pain. I could hardly breathe as Nic yanked Dennis out of my arm's reach. Probably a good idea as I might have pulled a Homer and strangled the child.
"What's wrong Erik? What's wrong?" chimed the rest of the kids who did not witness the violation of my genitals. Nic quite brilliantly corralled the children and decided to take them to the cabin himself as I laid there cursing under my breath.
Activities with Dennis proved to be a chore. Swimming was the worst.
Dennis couldn't swim so he needed someone to help him around the pool. Everytime Nic or I tried to carry him he would try and punch us. One of the girl counselors decided to intervene which he promptly removed her top. I grabbed him and scolded him for it, but the girl took pity on him and decided to give him another chance. I guess my scolding worked for he didn't do it again.
What he did later was much worse.
We were in the showers and he decided to scream "I see your teeny weeny. I see your teeny weeny" at everyone over and over again. Nic tried to calm him down while I watched over the rest of the children. A few moments went by and suddenly there was a relative quiet followed by blood curdling screams from the girls showers.
"Where's Dennis?" I asked Nic.
"Oh no," was his reply. This could not be good.
"Erik! Nic!" It was one of the girl counselors yelling for us. I go outside to find her dressed in nothing but a towel holding a naked Dennis.
"Uhh..oh..my...god," I said. "Did he..just..you know..."
She kind of smiled and asked me to try and keep a better eye on him as bolting into the girls shower was not appropriate. She was sympathetic to the plight of managing Damien..err..Dennis and did take it in good humor thankfully.
The problem with disciplining Dennis was not only the fact that he would always respond with a 'fuck you fatso' to everyone, but the leaders of the camp wouldn't let me do anything to try and get him to behave. Usual punishments I tried to implement like taking away privileges, dessert, lectures, time outs, etc. were constantly being undermined by my superiors. Dennis may have been a terror, but he was smart enough to know there was really nothing I could do to him.
This brings me to Dennis' vocabulary. I don't think I knew the 'f' word until maybe around 8 or 9, but not only was he aware of the word he used it on multiple occasions. Every time I tried to explain to him how we don't use that kind of language he'd respond with chanting 'fuck'.
Once we had some downtime with the kids and Nic and I let the children play at their leisure. Nic brought out a white trash car magazine which had the signature bikini clad woman on the cover. When Dennis saw this his eyes lit up and came running over yelling 'I know what I want. I want the pussy.' He then grabbed a pillow off his bunk and started to perform an unnatural act on it.
Here was Nic and I faced with a five year old humping a pillow. There was that moment of eerie surprise, like we just watched our first horror film. I finally pulled Dennis off the pillow and scolded him again. A counselor from another cabin, who had enough of the little anti-Christ, took him into his cabin and we all heard a bunch of muffled yelling from him and Dennis screaming 'fuck you fatso'.
There were many other misdeeds Dennis laid upon us all of which made me want to slowly torture whoever was responsible for conceiving and raising the bastard child. In all his mishaps I sort of took pity on him knowing that it was inevitably his parent's fault, but that didn't make my week go any easier.
I did have my moment of sweet revenge however. Nic was taking his daily allotted hour break and I watched the kids play. One child was a gentle giant who Dennis tormented on a regular basis. On this day though this mammoth kid decided he had enough.
Dennis came at him with a big stick and tried to hit him with it. Before I could do anything the big kid jumped on Dennis and threw numerous hammer fists on his chest. The demon child screamed profanities at him and pleaded for the beatings to stop, but the fists came down quicker and with more force every time Dennis yelled or hurled an insult.
I being the ever so mature teenager did what I felt was right. I stood and watched the plummeling of my small nemesis.
"Please...uhh..like...stop," I said softly. "Please...stop beating...him."
The big kid decided Dennis had enough. He stood over him with clenched fists and a red angry face.
"Leave me alone Dennis," he commanded.
"Fuck you fatso," Dennis replied with tears rolling down his cheeks. The kid swiftly pounced on him and continued his assault.
Finally I decided to intervene and stop the beating. Dennis stood up after crying his eyes out and apologized. He never bothered the big kid again.
Yeah I'm going to hell, but when I do I'm going to kick the living crap out of Dennis' father.
To this day I think of Dennis and what happened to him. I do hope some segment of society helped raise that child into something better than his parents had destined for him. He may be out committing crimes against God and man, but the optimist in me prays for a better life for him.
"I guess I was a brat. I had a lousy temper and the first day of school some kid pushed my head into the fountain." - Alan Ladd